COLLEGE PARK -- University of Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger said yesterday that he will begin lobbying for bowl bids if the Terps win Saturday against North Carolina, guaranteeing the football team its first winning season since 1985.
After Saturday, the Terps (5-3 overall, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) have two road games left -- against Penn State on Nov. 10 and against No. 1 Virginia on Nov. 17. But according to Geiger, a victory over North Carolina (4-2-1, 1-1-1) would give the Terps good position in the bowl hunt.
Geiger and Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Gene Corrigan said informal invitations to bowls usually are extended by Nov. 10. Geiger said formal invitations can be given seven days later.
"First, we've got to make sure we're going to win more than we're going to lose," said Geiger. "This all doesn't mean much until we get up to six.
"I talked to the conference office last week, and they said they would be making phone calls and those kinds of things. If we win Saturday, then we're live possibilities. Then I'll get hold of conference officials and see what I should be doing."
Corrigan said his only conversation with bowl officials had beeabout Virginia, but he added that Maryland, North Carolina and North Carolina State were in the picture. Last year, four ACC teams played in bowls.
"There's always interest; they're always looking for teams to come," Corrigan said. "Remember, there are 16 bowls and 32 teams are involved. That first week in November is always one of the toughest for us, as far as helping make decisions."
B6 Corrigan said bowl committees, when evaluating pos
sible participants, look at a number of things, including record, schedule, playing style, and whether the school has a strong following.
Maryland has shown it can be exciting with its one-back set and passing game. And few question the Terps' schedule, which includes five teams -- Michigan, Clemson, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia Tech -- that at one time this season appeared in the national rankings.
One of the Terps' biggest drawbacks is their attendance. In five home games, Maryland drew an average of 31,664, its lowest since 1981 and a sizable drop from the 38,457 the Terps averaged last year, when they had a 3-7-1 record and six home games.
"We have a lot of positives going for us," said Geiger. "I don't think the fan support will be a problem."
Corrigan said some of the conference schools that participated in smaller bowls have lost money. He said N.C. State (7-4 last year) lost money in the Copper Bowl in Tucson, Ariz., and Duke (8-3 last season) profited in the All-American Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.
The question is, will Maryland -- if invited -- take a chance on participating in a bowl, with a projected athletic department deficit of $4 million by the end of the school year?
"There are a lot of things you have to take into consideration," Corrigan said. "The location is definitely a factor. Also, some teams know they are going to take a loss but go for the exposure, and they also want to give the kids a reward."
Maryland coach Joe Krivak said he is staying away from bowl talk.
"I don't want to get into that," he said. "I've said that if we win enough football games, we're in a position -- a position. But we've still got to play North Carolina down there, then we've got to play Penn State and then we've got to play Virginia, which is the No. 1 team in the country.
"For us to look beyond North Carolina is ludicrous."
Even though Krivak has maintained a low profile about a bowl possibility in public, he apparently has reminded his team about its chances.
"It's definitely on our brains," cornerback Scott Rosen said. "Coach is trying not to get too far ahead, just letting us know every week we have to comprehend the possibilities, and that they get stronger each week if we win. We haven't had a winning season in a long while, so it can be kind of tough to comprehend where we are.
"We were in a similar situation two years ago, but we blew it by losing to Wake Forest in the fourth period. If anything, we learned from that situation. We're taking North Carolina seriously -- very seriously. People keep saying they are not a good team, that they are the same team we beat by 35 points last year. It could be easy to look by them and at Penn State, but that's our biggest game of the year. But to get to that big game at Penn State, we've got to get by North Carolina."
NOTES: Former Maryland wide receiver Dean Green, a graduate assistant with the Terps this season, has been working out with the basketball team. . . . Gordon Burris, head of the university's primary athletic fund-raising group, the Terrapin Club, has resigned, effective Dec. 3, and will become assistant to the president at Virginia. Maryland has a hiring freeze, but Geiger is hoping to get an exception so he can replace Burris, bringing in someone from outside the university.